Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir of self discovery is now a vehicle for Julia Roberts – it's the first movie to be sold on the Hollywood star's name alone since Mona Lisa Smile seven years ago - and indeed she's ideal casting as the lady dissatisfied with her life who seeks new adventures.
She lives in New York with her husband (Crudup) but decides to end their union, has a fling with a toyboy actor (Franco) and then spends a year abroad trying to find herself. First stop is Italy where she makes friends with a welcoming group of people and indulges in the country's culinary delights. The foodie dishes on display certainly look delicious and only our Julia could make eating a bowl of spaghetti look so effortlessly charming.
She then goes to India to meditate on an ashram - hardly rivetting, I almost fell asleep during this section - this despite a heartfelt turn from Richard Jenkins as a fellow traveller who is experiencing problems of his own.
Her final destination is Bali where she lets her hair down getting drunk at one point and ends up romancing Brazilian expat Bardem, a gentle soul who's unafraid to show his love for her. This new relationship confuses her. Can she be with a man and still be herself? Who knows? Who cares?
Though this is all smoothly done and has glossy photography, it never takes flight. Throughout the narrative, one is continually wondering what this woman's problem is. OK, so she's unhappy in her life and seeking fulfillment but the constant self absorbed questioning she articulates and dippy platitudes she spouts make you want to shake her and tell her to get over herself.Roberts is a supremely good movie actress and emotes convincingly. She is also brave enough to look deglamourised in certain scenes, but there is absolutely no real drama or conflict for her to sink her teeth into. One has no great sympathy for her plight and the tepid journey she embarks on is never remotely interesting. It's unremittingly tedious and goes on forever. Lovely locations of course, but overall it's an anaemic and endless bore.
EXTRAS ★★★ To kick things off, you get two versions of the film – the Theatrical version, and the Director's Cut. Then you get four featurettes: Ryan Murphy's Journey With Eat Pray Love (4:18); The Beginning of The Journey (15:25); Praying in India (14:41); and Finding Balance (11:48). Plus there's a music video for the song Better Days (4:12), and trailers for other Sony Blu-ray releases.